Magazine article University Business

National Spotlight on Campus Gender Accommodations

Magazine article University Business

National Spotlight on Campus Gender Accommodations

Article excerpt

The University of Vermont allows its students to identify their own gender around campus, even if it's no gender at all. Though the policy has existed for nearly five years, it wasn't until a February New York Times article that UVM received significant attention, says Dot Brauer, director of the LGBTQA Center@UVM.

"Nothing prepared us for this level of excitement," says Brauer, who received several requests for interviews and advice from other higher ed institutions. "The feedback has been nothing but positive and encouraging."

For about a decade, UVM has been known as a highly LGBT-friendly institution, and more transgender students have been enrolling, Brauer says. Allowing students to choose how they're identified in the student information system (SIS) was the next step. Officials were on board, but no third-party SIS company was willing to make the change. "UVM finally decided to stop waiting," says Brauer.

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It took roughly four months of internal work--at a cost of about $80,000 in staff time--to modify the SIS. Since Spring 2009, students have been able to select a preferred gender pronoun or be referred to by name only. Options are he, she, they or the gender neutral term, ze--or even a preferred non-legal name. …

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